Continuing on with my girls' trip to Wanaka and Lake Hawea. We stayed at a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Cromwell - Tussock View House - highly recommended with fabulous hosts.
Cromwell is a fabulous location to base yourself for days in Central Otago - it's pretty central to lots of the townships/goldrush history etc. And totally out of the madness and I mean madness of Queenstown. NZ has had a huge increase in tourism and Queenstown is one of the places where volumes of people arrive, but the infrastructure has not kept up with the increase. It is stunning scenery in Queenstown, but I'm not a fan of the place. I've been twice in just under two years and I've driven in and out of the place under two hours going "yuck, no thanks". There is zero parking in town, one struggles to walk along the footpath, it's a zoo! The subdivisions being built *way* out of town are something else - it's now more expensive to live there than Auckland (where the average house goes for just over one million dollars now). The growth around lots of the towns is huge - lots of Aucklanders moving down with lots of money after making a killing selling their houses!
Wanaka is a pleasant 50km or so drive to get to from Cromwell. Our first stop was the Wanaka Lavendar Farm - I didn't even know that this place existed until I saw the sign for it! It certainly was stunning and a great place to buy a few Christmas gifts too. We didn't do the tour of the gardens - just took pics with my zoom and from the road :)
Wanaka is a lovely township - I could live there easily! And I could have easily started and finished the Christmas shopping - divine shops! We had a fabulous lunch at the Federal Diner. There is a lovely huge lake here too. I imagine Wanaka could get very busy, but the day we were there it was very pleasant! Great op shops too. New Zealand is a very small country and although we were a 2 hour flight from home (and probably about a 15-18 hour drive), my friend Liz met two people she knew in Wanaka, both from Auckland. Then we found out our friend who we surprised, was a friend of one of my friends who lives at the top of the South Island. It is such a tiny country! (much like the time I met an old high school friend walking down the road when I was living in London, UK and then met a friend of one of my cousin's in a pub in England too. And discovered that my best mate was a friend of Stephen's sister while they both lived in England too! And that my best mate had no idea she was Stephen's sister, until she saw photos and asked how we knew Mary!!).
it was very windy on this day, so the lake was quiet with no boaties or swimmers or kayakers.